Nymm 7, 1002 YK
Solar Eclipse (aka Team Martial)
Once Zelishkar of the Bitter Flame has finished his rampage, he speaks to Zil’dejin, Lucan, Derli, and Indicus, and recalls his imprisonment after his battle with Mordakhesh the Shadowsword. He takes the Rage Shard that imprisoned him, intending to use it to forge a weapon capable of killing Mordakhesh, and goes down into the rift he emerged from to retrieve the Testament of Sin and return to the Cinder Furnace. After he leaves, the star archon Solas returns to chastise the party, swearing vengeance on Derli before leaving as well. The party then takes the surviving bladelings and returns to Zoronor, where they meet the titan Komios. Komios takes them to his Adamantine Fortress just as the Inevitables arrive. The party prepares to make a stand until Vindicator destroys the door to the fortress with his strange hammer. They then form the “Muscle Train,” a straight line of destruction that pushes through the invading Inevitable ranks and outside, where, in mid-air, they assemble into one bizarre, spinning formation of violence dubbed the “Whirl’dejin”. When the Whirl’dejin lands, Vindicator is gone and has withdrawn most of his Inevitables, but has left behind an arbiter to inform the party that he is drawing them back out into the open by attacking Grey Titan’s Hold. On their request, Last Echo takes them back to the Eclipse Keep.
Lunar Eclipse (aka Team Magic)
The Becoming God begins lumbering north towards Eros. Creator takes roughly half of the Godforged back into the Obficinium in Fractal, where they are converted to a new type of Inevitable called a “yantarut,” designed to enforce the superiority of living constructs. Some yantaruts go with the Becoming God, while the majority of the rest scatter in different directions. They are meant to convert the living into hybrid constructs called “Perfects,” which still possess free will except that they cannot violate the Six Axioms (the cosmic laws enforced by the Inevitables). The party joins Creator in the Obficinium. Mute Kaleth (a time-clone) undergoes the Perfection, and Kaleth maintains a distraction while Rilic taps into the Obficinium’s power. Meanwhile, Conlon is pulled out to Hopelorn to meet with Mellifleur’s Cabal, who want to get the Rod of Order back.
Conlon takes Zogugbu, Rave (a new member of the Cabal), and The Weeping Widow (who he agrees to marry in exchange for help) back to Fractal. Zogugbu and Rave hold the Inevitables outside the Obficinium while he reenters with the Weeping Widow. Rilic uses the Obficinium’s power to create a gun that fires the Chaos Gear into the heart of the Obficinium, where the Rod of Order is situated. Creator panics but is not permitted to flee. To stop a terrible reaction from ocurring, Kaleth stops time and attunes himself to the Star of Chaos, killing Creator in the process. Creator reincarnates into one of the yantaruts and tries to take the Rod of Order, but Conlon stops him, attuning to it instead. Rilic creates a rocket-pod like he used against Suhnen to pin Creator while they destroy the Obficinium, and the party then leaves. When they return to Eclipse Keep, Weeping Widow is nowhere to be found.
Nymm 8, 1002 YK
Conlon, Rilic and Kaleth make preparations for the two threats known to be headed their way: the Becoming God and Vindicator. They have a matter of hours and set about it quickly, including setting wards, evacuating parts of the city, and resting and healing. Lucan heads to Wroat to reunite with his mentor, Taldor d’Medani, who agrees to help. Derli goes to speak with Ser Tabin Hamson to prepare the Hammer of St. Derli, but finds that she has been killed by Cassianus and Iskandar. Derli duels Cassianus and defeats him, but as soon as Iskandar steps in to finish Derli off after the first duel, Conlon arrives and fights Iskandar in Derli’s stead. He, too, wins by a thread, and the two of them gather their new talismans and rejoin the others to prepare for battle.
Nymm 7, 1002 YK
Once Zelishkar of the Bitter Flame has finished his rampage in the torn remains of Sphere Valley, he wanders over to the party. Now that he is free, he can recall the details of his imprisonment, which resulted from a duel against Mordakhesh the Shadowsword here many years ago. Mordakhesh imprisoned him with a Rage Shard in the wake of the battle, a fact which Zelishkar detests, increasing his already-burning hatred for the rakshasa. He says he will take the Rage Shard that imprisoned him and use it to forge a weapon capable of killing Mordakhesh. Derli protests against this at first, but with some convincing from Zil’dejin, he gets on board. Zelishkar then takes his leave, going down to the Testament of Sin where it crashed and fell below the valley so that he can power it with the Rage Shard and return to the Cinder Furnace.
After Zelishkar has left, Solas returns to the Solar Eclipse. Most of his archons have retreated to their fort, and he comes to them alone. He condemns them for their actions, in particular Deril, whom Solas did not realize was the Horseman of War. The party protests that they had no way of knowing what would happen, but Solas threatens to invade the Cinder Furnace and exact revenge anyway. Zil’dejin tries to convince him to go after Lagrish instead, but Solas informs him that the devils are headed in the direction of another stronghold of the archons. Solas then leaves as well, bound for the archons’ fort, and the party takes the surviving bladelings — about fifty, in all — back towards Zoronor.
They make it back to the bladelings’ city without incident, and are taken through the Blood Forest again by the mercenaries. Once inside, they head directly for the temple to speak with Iron Feather. They inform him of the situation, but before he can voice a reply, the top of the temple implodes, debris raining down on where the party stands. Amid the dust and smoke rises the form of Komios. The bladelings bow down before him as he commends the party on their numerous feats of late, and their defiance of all other factions in the name of demonstrating their strength. There are numerous needless displays of strength, lots of yelling and flexing, and in general, an atmosphere of great hype.
Once the demonstrations have finished, Komios has the four Collective members grab his biceps, and he jumps up into the air, through a hole he punched in the thorns of the Blood Forest and up to the sole entrance of his fortress. They pass through a hall full of bladelings, whom Komios describes as “living caltrops,” and leads the party to the “Chamber of the Throne.” His throne is simple, and his walls adorned by huge weapons. Some damage is still present from the party’s last visit. Komios announces that this is where they should take a stand against any Inevitable that manages to make it through the rest of the defenses.
After a while, a bladeling comes in and informs everyone that the Inevitables have arrived. Komios has them bring in the “viewing skull” — the skull of a titan about Komios’ size, with its mouth bound in some sort of gauze. Komios demonstrates that it pleads for death when the gauze is removed, laughs, and then projects from its eyes a wide view of the surrounding area, where an army of Inevitables has indeed gathered under Vindicator’s leadership. They are mostly kolyaruts and zelekhuts, with some maruts in the mix as well. The kolyaruts ride on the backs of the zelekhuts, and the maruts are able to fly on their own. In one continuous single-file battery, the army files up through the air, smashes against the door, and retreats.
The door holds until Vindicator himself arrives at the back of the line, hits the door with his great hammer, and causes it to seemingly vanish, appearing to be absorbed directly into the hammer. Once the door is gone, the party decides to take a more aggressive approach. They form a straight line, with Derli at the front, creating a “Strength Train” or alternatively, a “Muscle Train.” In this line, they charge forward through the ranks of Inevitables entering the Adamantine Fortress, destroying them as they go until they are out the door. Komios remains behind to hold the entrance of the fortress.
In mid-air, the members of the Collective assume a new, bizarre formation. Zil’dejin grabs onto Derli with one hand while holding his glaive in the other. Indicus locks legs with the flying Zil’dejin, hanging upside-down, and Lucan stands on Zil’dejin’s shoulders. They begin spinning at near-impossible speeds. Zil’dejin cuts, Derli chops and bashes with his shield, Lucan temporarily assumes the form of a black dragonborn and spits acid all around, and Indicus slashes everything below. This tornado of destruction, which would come to be known as the “Whirl’dejin,” cleaves away the bulk of the Inevitables’ advance.
Vindicator orders a withdrawal, and by the time the Whirl’dejin reaches the ground, he is nowhere to be seen. A single arbiter remains, which delivers a message: if they insist on fighting here, out of a fortress of metal, then Vindicator will draw them out into the open. If they value the people of Grey Titan’s Hold, they will come stop the Inevitables before the people are killed. Zil’dejin protests that this is not particularly lawful, but Vindicator seems fine with this — it is the price of greater order that will arise from the party’s death.
The four return to Last Echo, who praises them for what they have done, and assures them he will tell the story for years to come and make sure that the Whirl’dejin is kept alive in the history of the bladelings. On the party’s request, he then takes them back to the Eclipse Keep.
In the Godforged stronghold of Fort Earthpass, the party watches as the Becoming God roars to life. After conversing with Creator in private, Sturmreiter urges all faithful willing to give up their freedom to join Creator in the Obficinium. Roughly half do, and inside undergo the transformation into Creator’s new class of Inevitables: the yantaruts, designed to enforce the sovereignty of living constructs. The first wave emerges, and splits into two groups. One group joins the Becoming God in its march north towards Grey Titan’s Hold, while the other scatters in different directions. The party rejoins the last of the to-be-converted yantaruts and Creator inside the Obficinium.
When they learn the purpose of the yantaruts, it quickly becomes apparent why Creator has been locked away for so long, and why Vindicator hinted that he had gone mad. Creator’s reasoning is that, when the Inevitables were first created, they were made to impose order on a world that possessed free will, and could not fully be trusted with it. At the time, he says, the axiomites could not have conceived of the “living construct” — constructs with true free will, like warforged or shardminds. With this new development, the yantaruts are intended to make the older classes of Inevitables obsolete by performing two tasks. The first is the conversion of some proportion of living constructs into more yantaruts, using something similar to a virus. The second is a process he calls “Perfection,” which all other beings with free will — including living constructs not converted into yantaruts — will be forced to undergo by way of a symbiotic eldritch machine, which latches into the mind and prevents violating the Six Axioms. In this way, the six laws essential to the universe, each of which is currently enforced by one of the extant types of Inevitables, will be impossible to break. Outside of this restriction, though, free will can be preserved.
The party exchanges uncomfortable glances and quietly hatches a plan while the last of the Godforged in the Obficinium undergo conversion into yantaruts. Kaleth and his current time-clone, dubbed “Mute Kaleth,” provide a distraction while Rilic sneaks around to the front of the Obficinium’s machine. Kaleth asks a variety of questions about the Perfection, and learns more about what it is intended for and how it works. He also learns that the process is designed to be quick and painless, and a demonstration is performed on Mute Kaleth. The time-clone is stunned by some sort of shockwave from one of the yantaruts’ hands, and then a spike is driven through his spine, which quickly settles into his flesh. After a while he stands back up, and expresses that he is not in pain, but Kaleth’s attempts to get him to violate one of the Six Axioms, specifically violating the integrity of time, are met with failure. Indeed, Mute Kaleth seems unable to even conceive of such a thing.
While this distraction is underway, Rilic makes his way to what looks to be a metal altar. Above its surface floats a flowing string of luminous green symbols, made of the same strange dust found in all of the blueprints in the Obficinium and that the axiomites shed when they move. Having worked with strange control panels before in Tharkul Kan, Rilic manages to decipher enough about the machine’s operation that he can give himself creative power, similar to what Creator exhibited. Complex creations require more focus than Rilic is able to muster, but he manages to create a sort of projectile weapon that he intends to use to sew chaos. When the device is made, the Chaos Gear forms in its center, emerging from “orbit” around Rilic.
Just as Creator notices what is happening, Conlon prepares to react and is ripped out of the Obficinium by some sort of dark magic. He appears in the Circle of Silent Screams in Hopelorn. The Cabal has gained a handful of new members besides Conlon, including Rave, Bronzesmith, and Prince Oargev ir’Wynarn, whose ghost has detached itself from Zil’dejin and now bears the Mark of Poison. His ghost drips venom, and appears to have a demonic visage when viewed from the corners of one’s eyes. The meeting of the Cabal concerns the Rod of Order. Mellifleur does not outright condemn Conlon for trying to steal it back from him, but insists that the warlock get it back on behalf of the Cabal. In exchange, he will resume guiding Conlon down the path to lichdom, and will also grant him another favour. By Mellifleur’s decree, he may take any member of the Cabal with him without question, but any further help he receives he must bargain for. He picks Zogugbu for free, then enlists the aid of Rave for additional funding for the death magic academy, and The Weeping Widow, who offers to do it in exchange for his hand in marriage. With this request, she also expresses her distaste for Kaleth, and mentions that Conlon’s strength, dark magic, and commanding presence are more to her taste. Conlon agrees to “make an honest woman of her,” and with this additional aid, he is teleported back to Fractal. Unfortunately, the Obficinium is warded against teleportation from the outside, so the group appears out in the clearing around the building instead. Zogugbu and Rave remain behind to combat the Inevitables trying to breach the Obficinium while Conlon reenters with the Weeping Widow.
In Conlon’s absence, Kaleth has been stunned by the same yantarut that Perfected Mute Kaleth, and is about to carry out the Perfection on Kaleth himself. Rilic is readying himself to fire his “chaos gun” when the remaining yantaruts in the chamber charge him on Creator’s command. Conlon uses his magic to create a field of black tendrils that grab the yantaruts and hold them in place, while the Weeping Widow rushes in with a pair of bloody knives. Now clear, Rilic fires the chaos gun, launching the Star of Chaos towards the device that is drawing power from the Rod of Order. The Star begins sawing through the hatch through which the Rod was originally placed, gradually making its way through. Conlon summons the Slapadin to rally Kaleth, who then gets to his feet and helps the Star of Chaos along by blasting the hatch.
The Rod of Order is now exposed, and the empowered Rod of Order is about to meet the similarly-active Star of Chaos. Creator insists this is a terrible development and tries to escape the Obficinium, but Rilic throws a wall in his path by using the creative power of the chamber, which he can still access. Before the Chaos Gear can touch the Rod of Order, Kaleth stops time, ignores the presence of the Phane (whom he now believes to be a Kaleth from another timeline), and reaches out to grab the Star of Chaos, which is spinning in midair despite the time stop. He realizes he can only move it by attuning to it, and he does so, but the act requires the killing of an inherently lawful creature. He slays Creator to achieve this.
When time resumes, the Star of Chaos floats a few inches off of Kaleth’s chest, spinning erratically. Creator’s physical form was destroyed, but he begins reincarnating into one of the yantaruts, apparently some contingency he had in place in the event of his death. He grabs the Weeping Widow by the throat and with his free hand tries to draw the Rod of Order to him, out of the machine and into his hand. Conlon lunges for it but it is moving too fast; he and Kaleth focus their efforts on applying magical force to it, and together return it to Conlon. He attunes to it as well to stop Creator from getting it again, and though the effort burn the eys out of his skull and cause him to pass out, he is successful.
Though the Rod of Order has been dislodged from the device in the Obficinium, some of its power lingers. Rilic taps the last of it to create a flying turret-pod, similar to the one he used from the Phoenix Eclipse in the party’s battle against the atropal Suhnen. He is not able to create a complete one — his creation lacks the Sulatar-enchanted ruby that enables it to shoot rays of fire, but other than this, it is what he wanted. He propels it forward into Creator, driving his rapier through the axiomite at the same time. They crash into a wall, pinning Creator, and Rilic uses the enchantment on his rapier to pull away Creator’s Obficinium-granted control over the yantaruts, tranferring it to himself instead.
“You made one mistake, Creator,” he says as he pulls his rapier free. “I’m already Perfected.”
With the power he took from Creator, Rilic orders the yantaruts to begin tearing down the Obficinium. They set about destroying blueprints and traching the machine, causing Creator to wail in fury and anguish as his work of millennia is destroyed. Kaleth then plane shifts them out of the Obficinium, back to the Eclipse Keep (as teleportation out is possible, just not coming in). Weeping Widow is not with them when they arrive, but everyone else is present, just in time to see the Solar Eclipse stepping down from the auditorium’s stage where the teleportation circle is located.
Nymm 8, 1002 YK
It is just past midnight when the Eclipse Collective reunites in the Eclipse Keep. They catch up on their respective adventures, and once it is clear that neither Vindicator nor the Becoming God have yet arrived in Grey Titan’s Hold, they set about preparing for a large fight.
Zil’dejin goes to the southeastern end of the city and begins evacuating a large area to fight in. Gummy Joe relays to him that many of the common people are upset about this, but Zil’dejin insists that it is preferable to having them present in the city when the two Inevitable armies arrive. Gummy Joe, completely intoxicated, also asks for command of part of the Brelish army, citing his past experience; Rilic ends up sending him away by convincing him that “Moon Iadoes” has just been seen in Trolanport, far away in Zilargo. Gummy Joe immediately takes his leave, and Baalondorus consults with Zil’dejin to discuss what he should do in the coming battle. Zil’dejin asks him to look for a weakness in Vindicator, and in particular to seek information about his hammer, which was seen to have caused a reinforced adamantine door to seemingly vanish. Baalondorus agrees and shifts into dragon form, taking to the sky.
After using his power to restore Conlon’s eyes, Lucan goes to Wroat, where he visits his old mentor, Taldor d’Medani. Taldor does not believe Lucan is who he claims to be at first, citing numerous false Lucans that have come to him since the incident at the Starpeaks Observatory. Lucan proves his identity by punching Taldor in the face, which Taldor accepts. Lucan also asks about Professor Mordecai Ayel Moriarty d’Medani, but Taldor insists that it was Baron Trelib’s idea, not his own. Lucan enlists Taldor’s help in the coming battle against the Inevitables, and Taldor is more than happy to comply.
Meanwhile, Kaleth goes to the edge of Grey Titan’s Hold, near where Zil’dejin has begun the evacuation and begins setting up wards and protections against the Inevitables. Once he is done, he rejoins Zil’dejin and Rilic, the latter of whom is working on the next volume of his autobiography. Indicus remains in the Keep, taking a nap before the battle.
Derli goes to speak with Ser Tabin Hamson about rallying the Hammer of St. Derli, and finds his men in full gear outside the cathedral. They create an opening for him to pass through, but when he enters the cathedral itself, he finds it empty. On the main altar to Dol Dorn, there is a large object wrapped in the altar cloth. Derli unfurls it to discover the broken body of Tabin Hamson, her corpse riddled with wounds of various sorts. He armour is torn and sundered in numerous places, and there are numerous injuries to suggest magic was complicit in her death. As Derli inspects the damage, Cassianus and Iskandar emerge from the shadows, the latter of whom is wearing a necklace made of Hamson’s teeth and grinning madly.
Cassianus explains that this was a bid to press Derli into attacking recklessly, when both he and Iskandar were at full strength. The plan was that Derli would fight Cassianus, and even if he won, Iskandar would fight him. Failing that, the men outside — who are actually shadowmorphs — would kill Derli anyway. Even knowing this, Derli charges into battle against Cassianus. Cassianus brings terrible shadow magic and the strength of his Blade of Exquisite Agony to bear against Derli’s Blade of Greed. On one of Derli’s strongest batteries, Cassianus replaces himself with a shadow duplicate, circumventing the attack and appearing behind Derli, tearing into him with his blade. Finally, though, Derli manages to drive him to the ground and decapitate him.
In the wake of Cassianus’ death, without skipping a beat, Iskandar lunges at Derli, who is on the edge of death after his fight with the shadow Hexblade. Before Iskandar’s Distortion Blade meets Derli’s axe, however, Conlon leaps over Deril’s head, summoning the Starshadow Blade and clashing it against Iskandar’s weapon. As the dueling field forms around them, Derli collects the talismans from Cassianus, including the Shadow and Dark blades, and watches Conlon’s duel.
Iskandar’s strange daelkyr-given magic, combined with his skill as a swordsman, his erratic fighting style, and his assortment of aberrant symbiotes, makes him a challenging opponent for Conlon. He is able to create distortions in space that rip at Conlon’s body and makes several attempts to mutate him, only one of which is successful. This mutation causes Conlon to produce some sort of glue all over his body, making it difficult for him to move for a few seconds and hindering his ability to cast spells. Iskandar takes full advantage of this opening, slashing at the movement-challenged Conlon.
Once the glue seepage ends and Conlon recovers his maneuverability, he puts some distance between himself and Iskandar and slices into his own hand with the Starshadow Blade. He points a now-skeletal hand at Iskandar, who is wracked with torment. He tires to react, but Conlon gazes at him with the darkness of deep space in his eyes, sickening Iskandar and making it difficult for him to act. In a rage, Iskandar taps into his most powerful Arcanum. Cracks form in the foundation, walls, and ceiling of the cathedral as thousands of barbed tentacles burst through, bound to seize Conlon’s limbs and tear him apart. Conlon draws on his mythic power to burn the tentacles away with starfire before they reach him, and uses the vestiges of Iskandar’s broken magic to fly towards his surprised opponent. Conlon pierces Iskandar’s heart, and watches as the Hexblade dies, his shark-like grin still on his face.
Conlon collects Iskandar’s two talismans — the Daelkyr pact and the Archon pact — and catches a breath with Derli before going to join the others in the defense against the Inevitables.